The Dining Divas: Formoli’s Bistro

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Guests: Beverly Bertolucci and her daughter, Terri Parra, who manages the family business, Bertolucci’s Body and Fender Shop, founded by Dick Bertolucci 61 years ago; and Starr Walton-Hurley, community volunteer, vice president of the Sacramento Zoological Society and honorary consul to New Zealand, and her guest, Mary Healy, executive director of the zoological society and director/CEO of the Sacramento Zoo

Where: Formoli’s Bistro, 3260 J St., Sacramento; (916) 448-5699

1-second review: Order the Whiskey Burger with pommes frites, advised Terri Parra and Diva Paulette Bruce, who woo-hooed over the presentation.

Benefiting organization: California Automotive Museum (formerly Towe Auto Museum) and the Sacramento Zoological Society

Ambiance: Bistro-in-the-city style

Dishing on the dishes: What a menu! What variety! We had dates stuffed with goat cheese and pancetta; eggplant napoleon; bruschetta with wine-braised mushrooms; crusted seared scallops; mussels in a smoky red-wine tomato broth; hanger steak; tuna slider (seared ground tuna with spicy ginger aioli); and two Whiskey Burgers—worth every calorie. And then dessert: saffron ice cream with pistachios and fresh fruit tart. All beautiful, all delicious.

Extras: Check out the original art supplied by Developmental Disabilities Service Organization—it’s bright and supports owners Aimal and Suzanne Formoli’s commitment to the community. Surprise! A slice of cucumber in each glass of water.

Wine time
: From the blanco side of the list, Diva Joan Leineke chose C.H. Berres 2007 Impulse Riesling; from the rojo, her pick was Monte Antico 2004 Toscano.  “Loved the white,” said Diva Peg Tomlinson-Poswall. “So much more interesting than a Chard.”

Quote of the day: “I’m full,” said Diva Joan Leineke, a sentiment that echoed around the table as we looked at the plethora of plates, all empty.

Chatter: Mary Healy knew she would be remiss if she didn’t mention the zoo’s newest attraction. “You haven’t been around until you have ridden the zoo’s carousel,” said Healy, who added that the zoo has facilities for private, catered lunches and dinners. Starr Walton-Hurley wondered if the community would support a train from Old Sacramento to the zoo, with stops along the way, including the California Automotive Museum.

The Dining Divas—Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall—have been wining and dining together since 1993. Every month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $297,000 for local charities and nonprofits.